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Health official urges Missourians to get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines as soon as possible

KBIA's Rebecca Smith after receiving both her COVID-19 booster and flu shot.

There’s been a lot of information this past year about the COVID vaccines and now, the COVID boosters, but as we enter flu season, that may be creating some confusion about – the flu shot.

Sara Humm, the public information specialist for Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services, said the flu season typically reaches its peak by November and lasts through February, which is why she and other health officials are recommending that people get their flu shots by the end of October – even if they’ve received their COVID vaccines and booster.

"The CDC says that you can get your COVID vaccine and your flu shot at the same time. You don't need to wait any number of days between the two."
Sara Humm, Columbia/Boone County Public Health & Human Services

“The flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine protect against different things because the flu and COVID are different viruses, and so even if you've already been vaccinated for COVID-19, you still need to get a flu shot if you want to be protected, to the best extent possible, against the flu.”

Humm said that the guidance for receiving flu shots and COVID-19 shots and boosters has changed in the last few months. Originally, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention had recommended that people wait a few weeks between vaccines, but as more data was gathered, this changed.

“The CDC says that you can get your COVID vaccine, and your flu shot at the same time. You don't need to wait any number of days between the two,” Humm said. “Now, of course, some people may choose to wait, that's totally fine, but you don't need to wait.”

She added that individuals should speak with their primary care physicians about what is best for them, especially if they have had adverse reactions to vaccinations in the past.

Ultimately, she said keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy comes down to taking similar precautions for both COVID-19 and the flu – wash your hands, wear masks, avoid crowded indoor areas, and, “of course, one of the big ones is stay home when you're sick. If you're not feeling well, please stay home.”

Humm said you can find a list of community vaccinators at https://www.como.gov/covidvaccine/, and the Health Department will be offering COVID booster shots at their offices on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. - now until November 20th.

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.